Coming up to the halfway stage of the season, it is not hard to tell the IPL’s better teams from the worse. If Royal Challengers Bangalore remains, emphatically, one of the contenders for the main prize, Pune Warriors India finds itself sinking with the backmarkers.
The contrast between the sides, separated by a chasm of six points as they prepare to meet at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday, could not have been greater.
For RCB, this has been a largely satisfactory campaign despite a couple of blips. Unbeaten in five matches at home, this fixture is an opportunity to reinforce its position before hitting the road for the next 20 days or so.
Saturday’s win over Rajasthan Royals held none of the nerve-shredding tension of the previous games — something Virat Kohli drew relief from. The captain will also have been pleased with Saurabh Tiwary and Tillakaratne Dilshan, both of whom did alright after their long breaks.
PWI looked broken after Monday’s defeat at Mohali, Allan Donald slumped forward in his seat as Luke Wright’s delivery sailed back over the ropes. Wright had been one of the team’s successes earlier that night, his cameo with the bat swinging the balance. Yuvraj Singh did well on his return while Ajantha Mendis started with a wicket before tailing off.
PWI could be tempted to deploy the Sri Lankan against Chris Gayle on Tuesday nonetheless. Benching regular captain Angelo Mathews was a bold move and looked better for the team. Aaron Finch, who stood in, has unquestionably been PWI’s best batsman. One worry for both teams could be the rain; it drizzled late in the evening on Monday and more is forecast for Tuesday.
Keywords: Royal Challengers Bangalore